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DIGGING DEEPER: Virtual learning forces parents to leave jobs, adapt to changes

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DANE COUNTY (WKOW) -- Virtual learning is impacting more than just students during the pandemic. The change in schooling is causing some parents to make big decisions about their careers in order to be around to help their children.

With a fourth-grader learning on a laptop, a kindergartener on a computer in another room and three other younger children running around, it's all hands on deck for the Siebold family.

When the Mount Horeb Area School District switched to virtual learning, the family had to make some hard decisions.

"He's basically taking a leave of absence from his job and getting a third less of his pay in order to do that," said mom Brenna as she talked about her husband.

Joel said the decision was easy.

"It's just something that we had to do because there's no other option."

Joel works two overnight shifts as a school custodian right now. The CARES Act ensures that he still brings in some money.

The Siebolds aren't the only ones making changings during virtual learning.

According to the United States Census Bureau, a little more than 30 percent of all Wisconsinites are able to do their jobs at home right now.

United States Census Bureau on Telework

The majority of people have to go into work and leave their families, and that's if they're still employed.

"We're down about 238,000 jobs from where we were last year," said Dennis Winters from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

While that's better than the start of the pandemic, Winters says it's not where we want to be.

"We're coming back, but slower than we'd like," he said. "This is kind of an unprecedented time."

As for the Siebolds, they're grateful one parents can still work full time until schools are safe again, even if it does get a little crazy.

"It's one of those like, structured chaos, right? So we're making the best out of it and trying to stay organized," said Brenna.

"We're all in the same boat, and we're doing the best we can," said Joel.

Most school districts in the area will be reevaluating their virtual learning model in the coming months.

Rebecca Ribley

Wake Up Wisconsin Anchor

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